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June 11, 2013

Richmond baseball team downs Center Line to move on to D-2 state semis

Blue Devils aided by six Panthers errors

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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The Center Line High baseball team fell 7-0 to Richmond in a 2013 MHSAA D-2 state quarterfinal. Pictured is Panthers coach Rob Conti giving instructions to his players earlier this season.

NOVI — In a game that will never be considered the cleanest baseball contest ever, Richmond High bested Center Line High 7-0 to advance to a 2013 Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 state semifinal.

The Blue Devils (34-4) advance to take on Milan High at noon June 14 at Bailey Park in Battle Creek. The winner of that matchup gets either Grand Rapids Christian or Remus Chippewa Hills in the final, set for 12:30 p.m. June 15 at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek.

The state quarterfinal took place June 11 at Novi High.

Richmond was aided by six Panthers errors, which led to five unearned runs. Four of those unearned runs came in the top of the fourth inning, where the Blue Devils sent eight batters to the plate, with just one of those hitters — junior pitcher/outfielder Zach Leach — recording a hit.

"We were very flat. The kids weren't really with it today. You'd think they would have been, but we got by it and we move on to Friday," said Richmond coach Scott Evans, who has guided the Blue Devils to their first appearance in the state semis.

"It's our first-ever quarterfinal, and I'm not very happy about how we performed. Yes, we won, but that kind of effort will get us bounced on Friday."

Center Line (17-11)  junior pitcher Kyle Lugar, who didn't start the game but came in with no outs in the top of the first inning, went 6.1 in relief. Lugar struck out five, allowed five hits and three walks to go along with five runs — just two of which were earned.

"That team over there is 33-4. We had a nice run. We started the tournament 13-10. For us to be 17-11 when it's all over and win a district and a regional — they should be proud of their effort," said Panthers coach Rob Conti, who in his second year with the program led Center Line on its deepest playoff run since 2005.

"They scored seven, but five were unearned. It would have been a heck of a lot different if it was 2-0, but it wasn't. I don't know if I'd feel any better about losing 2-0 as opposed to 7-0, but I don't feel good about either now."

The Panthers couldn't solve Richmond's pitching, as sophomore hurler Dillon McInerny and Leach combined to throw a one-hit shutout. The two combined for 11 strikeouts, with Leach sitting down seven of the nine batters be faced.

"We were sharp on the mound. But fundamentally, in the field and the bases, we've got to be stronger," Leach said.

Sterling Heights Stevenson advances to D-1 state semis, Utica Ford out in quarters

The Sterling Heights Stevenson baseball team knocked off the University of Detroit Jesuit 10-7 in a 2013 MHSAA D-1 state quarterfinal played June 11 at Wayne State University.

The Titans (28-8) move on to play Bay City Western in a D-1 state semi set for 11 a.m. June 14 at C.O. Brown Stadium. The winner of that battle will meet either Birmingham Brother Rice or Howell in a state title game set for 9:30 a.m. June 15 at C.O. Brown Stadium.

The Utica Ford II softball team saw its season end in an 8-6 loss to Garden City in a D-1 state semi played June 11 at Wayne State. The Falcons end the season at 29-12.